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Here’s a lovely review of our panel event with Ehsan Abdollahi and Friends at the House of Illustration, written by Sue Martin at Books Go Walkabout:


Ehsan Abdollahi’s self-portrait with his declined application

Ehsan is an award-winning illustrator of children’s books, his work is published through Tiny Owl Publishers.

He teaches at Tehran’s top Honar (Art) University and he is currently in the UK to attend the Edinburgh International Book Festival and other engagements.

On Thursday 10th August he joined a discussion panel at The House of Illustration  in conjunction with Tiny Owl.

The panel was made up of James Mayhew, Erica Jarnes, Beverley Naidoo, Azita Rassi and Delaram Ghanimifard.

Discussion was fascinating and there was a strong focus on the initial refusal to entry and visa for Ehsan, a ban! After considerable pressure and public energy from many people, including The Bookseller and The Guardian, this was overturned and Ehsan was allowed entry into the UK.

But what does it mean to be ‘banned’? And who is affected by the ban? The panel felt that a ban meant that not only the person was banned from the country but also the children and recipients of the books were also banned from listening to Ehsan and his work, creating an apartheid situation.

Banning affects us all as we are not allowed to hear or take part. In effect it stops dialogue.  A dialogue, in this case where children can share an understanding of cultural differences, through books.  Where they experience a greater understanding of a global world, sharing lives and concerns, knowing similarities and differences and valuing both.

Ehsan Abdollahi’s workshop materials

Ehsan had also run some workshops for children, creating passports of peace and hope and, ‘using a poem as a springboard to explore how you might change the world and what colours you would use.’ Tiny Owl.

His books are amazing, the illustrations depict life in colour and style, they have a beautiful expressive feel about the images and tell the stories, often with no need for words.

When I Coloured in the World and A Bottle of Happiness are both wonderful books to have and to share. They tell more than the story written in the words, they are moral stories and full of meaning.

As picture books they have a place in libraries for children of all ages and adults too. By sharing the books with parents and teachers, there is much to discover in words, pictures and meaning.

At Books Go Walkabout, we are keen explorers of books in different places, reaching out across the world, using books and stories in a global dimension.

We are delighted to share Ehsan’s work and that of Tiny Owl with the world. We do this directly when travelling to the other side of the globe and through our blog which is read across Australia, South East Asia and in Europe.



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Posted in News & Reviews